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A Quality of Friendship

Discussion in 'Small Talk' started by Linkachu, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. Linkachu

    Linkachu Hero of Pizza
    Staff Member Administrator

    I've been intrigued to start this thread for sometime now, and meant to do so on the debate board before the merge... Either way, now seems as good a time as any. I mean no offence by the subject matter, so just keep in mind that it's VERY generalized.

    We all know the cliche about friendships in real-life that involve the "popular crowd", eh? The whole concept that the only reason people want to be friends with (insert-random-popular-person) is because of their status and to make themselves look better. A lot of us would like to believe we're not that shallow and wouldn't use such means as a basis for our friendships. But how true is that really when you take a deeper look?

    I remember a conversation with a close online friend of mine a few years ago that recently resurfaced in my mind (and don't bother asking because I'm not giving names). During it they expressed this feeling of being liked only for what they could give and do; they felt used by everyone. Their school acquaintances, their co-workers... even their best friends. Whether intentional or completely sub-conscious, it wasn't their qualities as a person that they felt liked for but their abilities; their skills. Take those away, and all of the relationships would slowly crumble one way or another.

    Now, I highly respect this person and their insights because they tend to see things that the average person would simply overlook - whether it be out of ignorance or a lack of understanding. Even though I disagreed with their opinion of how I personally valued their friendship (and still do), through my own analyzation I've come to understand their point of view then a bit better.

    Watching people in daily life and online… The way many friendships seem to start… Think about all those times a person randomly drew you a piece of artwork, or someone who filled a sprite or banner request for you. Maybe it was simply that they answered your question, gave you a link to a website you wanted, etc. It felt nice, and you were very grateful for it. Maybe a part of that is simply an innocent feeling, but think about how you'd feel if nobody had responded, or someone had turned down your request. How many people look at someone else who's receiving all of these random gifts and feel jealous over it, wishing that they too knew the creator better? By that thought alone, you've basically said "I wish we were friends so they could give me stuff, too" and that your strongest reason for wanting to be friends is to use them.

    Just one example, but I could pull out many - some much more subtle (like someone giving you good advice and you looking to them for guidance. When the advice suddenly stops coming, you turn to other sources instead). Maybe once these types of friendships progress they become less selfish and more "real"… but maybe the honest reality is that they never do fully overcome that manipulative nature, and a part of them is always based on what someone can give back to you. Maybe that's just truly the basis of all relationships and it's not as bad as it sounds.

    The "give and take" nature of communication - it's all about what you can give and how you receive it. If you stop talking, stop giving, then communication fails and the other person is left staring blankly and poking you in the head. Since communication is a key to any relationship, if it fails the relationship itself can - and typically will - also fail. So… considering this, can we really call the nature of communication a bad thing? Both parties receive something from it, even if it feels otherwise at times, and that's what keeps the relationship going. It might have its interlaced selfishness's, but it's one both individuals hold mutually.

    I'm not sure if I made my point here yet or if I even had one (I tend to just enjoy a good ramble). How do you view the nature of friendships? Do you agree or disagree with what's been mentioned above, or do you just feel that, even if they all are selfish in nature, there's varying levels of said selfishness at the core?

    Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I'm just giving the observations as I've seen them - this in no way states what my personal feelings on friendships are. It's all really just "food for thought" and to get the discussion going.
    #1 Linkachu, Jan 28, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  2. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    The thing is, people will generally respond easier if someone does something nice for them, be it a compliment or a gift or whatever. It's generally just a nice thing. If you think about it, how do you feel when someone goes out of their way to do something nice?

    Then things can start to vary. Depending on the person, they might strike up an actual friendship because the nice-giver-person was being nice, and they have mutual interests or similar personalities or whatever, and they enjoy being around each other.

    On the other hand, you've got the people who (I know a few examples IRL) that will be the person's friend, but only because they do nice things. Ultimately, the nice person is treated like a doormat, but it's alright because hey, they're suddenly popular or whatever.

    (Btw this is kinda a disjointed post because I'd have to sit and think this through very carefully, not just answer off the top of my head like I am doing)

    Then there's people who become friends because they have compatible personalities, and that's all gravy.

    As for me, well.. Idk. I'll be the first to admit that I'm very paranoid about being friends with people. Especially online people, because there are people online who I consider to be friends. But I am very paranoid about it, because seriously, at the college I attend you have people who are like that. Who aren't really your friends, just pretending because it benefits them somehow, and they go off and bitch behind your back.

    As far as friends and wanting stuff... Again, I know a few people like that IRL and I'll be the first to admit that I've been in that situation - someone's my friend because they benefitted from it somehow. Katie knows a few examples about this. Please don't ask me. But when you find out what they were really doing, it's not a nice feeling at all.

    (Like I said, very disjointed. Will continue this later)
  3. Magpie

    Magpie Feathered Overseer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Interesting post...

    I've always seen friendship as having two different definitions or stages. True friendship, and Acquaintance. If anyone were to ask me 'How many friends do you have?' I'd say loads, because I do have lots of friends. However, only and handful of those are people I'd trust with my inner feelings/secrets/problems. Friendship in a way is an over-used and over-generalised word, because it can mean so many different things.

    From what I've thought about, friendship is broken down into two important 'substances'. Mutual interest and Love.
    Friendships generally start out with mutual interest, be it actual interest or a situation, such as school where you share the same experiences. If that interest or situation finishes/ends, people tend to drift apart and whatever it was that held the friendship together disappears. Unless you put love into the mix.

    Sometimes, be it via extended mutual interest or by a few trying experiences, love develops and a bond is formed. I've known my best friend since we were both four years old, and even though we've grown up to be pretty much opposites with very little in common, the friendship has held purely because of love. She's always been there for me with my problems, and I've always been there for her.

    At school I got on really well with everybody, be they the 'popular' people or the 'not so popular people'. However, I talk to very few of them now, in fact I think I'm only still in contact with two of them, my best friend and someone I happen to work with XD
    The rest of those 'friendships' went no deeper than exchanged mutual interest, so when it was taken out of the equation, there was nothing else there.

    So that's my theory, occasionally love develops, be it through experience, compatibility or circumstance. Those are the friends that stay with you throughout life. There's only one friend from work that I can honestly say will be my friend if either of us change jobs. While I get on with the rest of my co-workers, and call them friends, without work we'd have very little in common.

    This goes on a lot. I remember at school watching some kids trying to be friends with the most popular ones, and pretty much just ending up being their bag-carriers. They seemed to deem it friendship, while the popular kids laughed at them and thought they were stupid. While I don't know what that feels like, since I was pretty much friendly with everyone, I chose to spend my school time with those that shared a couple of my interests, who may not have been very popular, but certainly made my school life tolerable.

    In conclusion, before this post gets too long, I'd say that those are my views. I have a few true friends and many, many acquaintances. I think both are important, acquaintances to make life that much easier, and true friends to pick you up when you've fallen along the way. Me and my best friend benefit equally from our relationship. She's my rock... and my only true female company, as all my other real life 'true friends' are guys XD
  4. Well, I guess I agree with Magpie's things about mutual interest and love. A lot of my friendships started out with sharing. My first best friend shared a tube of M&M's with me at recess when I was in Kindergarten and we've been friends ever since. And it may sound kind of weird or wrong or whatever, but in Elementary School, I'd think of my friends and what we could do. I'd think of this one friend and think "SSBM" or another and think "Ponies" (yeah, we played ponies...). Obviously, I brought something to the table that they liked, so we kept on playing with each other.

    But when I went to middle school, things were kind of weird. There were cliches and I didn't know where to belong. So I stayed to myself for about a month, until a really nice girl got me over to sit at her lunch table with her friend. She's now one of my best friends. At first I just kind of hung out with her so I wouldn't be lonely, but we're stuck to be with each other now. She's really great to talk with now, mostly about all the girly crap that goes through my system.

    So far in High School (I'm in tenth grade so far...) I've only made one good friend. Well, it was more like she made me her friend. She's a really person and she's also an amazing artist. I've only asked her for one picture so far, and she also complements me on my drawings. It's great ^.^.

    As for people who try to climb social ladders, I don't get it. Why try to be with people who rejected you for who you are because they're somehow popular? They'll probably use you later. I'm not very good at making friends, so I just have a few and have them be really good. Then they won't desert me on the next step of the ladder/life/ect.

    Internet friends... I'm not really on the internet much... But I'm guilty about the trying to make "friends" so I get cool stuff... it's not really making friends, it's sucking up to the people who have talent and hoping they give you what you want, definitely not a friendship. But maybe a friendship could spark from that selfishness, and you'd actually find out that they're a cool person without all the talent. Maybe, but you probably shouldn't do it like that. You should just compliment or give help or what ever and maybe share something from your own talents... or just even talk. You never know who could be your friend.
    And yeah, that's about it for me.​
  5. Linkachu

    Linkachu Hero of Pizza
    Staff Member Administrator

    *Nods* I do agree, as I'm sure most everyone else will, too. And yet... what I was hoping to get at with my original comment was that maybe those weren't the only shallow relationships we have. You gave a good example of some actually, Rayn: your elementary school relationships. In a way those could be considered shallow because you were looking at your friends and thinking "What entertainment can they provide me with?" That said... it was elementary school, and children don't rationalize the same way older folks do. We could take a poke at the concept of children being naturally selfish individuals, but I think it'd miss the point of the topic. Now, if you wanted to discuss how ALL humans are naturally selfish... be my guest XD

    To give a personal response... I've pondered my actions online over the years and I realize that I, too, have been at fault for selfishly wanting to be better friends with people in order to reap the benefits. It's completely and utterly shameful... but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't done it. Am I ashamed of it? Yes, completely, because I realized that it's just not the way to go. One example of such comes to mind... how I acted a year or two back, trying to get my name known in the Pokemon communities around the internets... Part of it was simply to promote Charms (a harmless "meet the people in the biz" sort of mentality), but the other part was completely shallow and stupid. It really just leaves me feeling like one big idiot.

    But I'm a hypocrite, just like everyone else. I've never claimed to be a perfect person, but I try not to make excuses for my faults either. Instead I attempt to change the way I act and overcome my flaws. Trying to live more genuine in my day-to-day life is one of the best decisions I ever made. Maybe I can't 100% of the time, but that's what trying is all about.

    Anyways... I agree with bits of what all three of you guys have already stated. I don't think all friendships are the same, and what some people would consider a "friend" is merely an acquaintance. When I look at my REALLY close friendships, there is nothing selfish about them beyond two people supporting each other mutually. An example: In Jr. high school, there was no key element that brought me together with my group of friends... We simply met, sat down with each other at lunch, talked about random stuff, and realized we all had stuff in common. That "stuff" wasn't necessarily hobbies either, because some of my group didn't share my interests at all (ie. my first boyfriend hated Pokemon). It was our morals that kept us together, because while we didn't agree with everything each other liked/disliked/said... we respected each other. I'm a big fan of trust and respect, and that's what I've always looked for in a friendship.

    Even online... I can't say my close friendships are really any different than the example above. I love my friends for who they are, not because of what they've given me in gifts or the extras that knowing them has earned me. I'm grateful to everything they've done for me simply because I'm just happy knowing them; happy that they respect me in return and value me enough to call me a friend. I genuinely like all of my friends - if I didn't, they wouldn't bloody well be my friends, eh? I'd like to hope they all felt the same way, too... and if they didn't, I'd hope they respected me enough to tell me :p
    That's what I base my true friendships on... loyalty, respect, and trust. All the other little potentially selfish indicators are merely white music and not what truly matters.

    I kinda rambled on, but I gotta take off now, so like El maybe I'll add more later.
  6. KoL

    KoL Expert FPS Player
    Staff Member Moderator

    My friendships with people have been...odd, to say the least, and my perspective on them has changed considerably over the years. The two years prior to my sixth form life were the two worst years in my life - I won't go into detail, but I'd just managed to start putting everything back together as I was entering sixth form. Because of my still rather shaky mindset, things started off...weird, to say the least.

    I was actually very popular, almost instantly popular, within my sixth form college, in an extremely backward way - I put on an attitude that I thought would make me easy to dislike, simply because I was so bent on getting my life back together and I didn't need anyone else around who could distract me. It's a warped mindset, but there you go. So, I generally acted rude, obnoxious and generally uncaring towards most people, and made it abundantly clear that I considered the whole "social ladders" thing beneath me in a way that almost dared people to tell me otherwise. Ultimately it had the opposite effect to what I had intended - as stated, I was very popular because of it, and when people eventually got closer to me and began to figure out who I really was, it wasn't long before people realized I'd been putting the attitude on the whole time, and was actually a lot more pleasant and good-natured than my attitude would suggest. Ironically, I had come into sixth form with the intention of making no friends at all, and in the end most of my closest friends came from my sixth form days.

    One thing people quickly cottoned on to was despite the fact that I was putting my bad attitude on, I wasn't one to mess with. A lot of people from my old grammar school had come into the same sixth form college as me, resulting in a "clique" of sorts between us as a group of outsiders who had come from a different school. Having known me for 5 years already, they knew one thing about me the others didn't - that I had a very evil temper and that if someone hurt me, I'd strike back 10 times worse. This reputation preceded me into sixth form, and people quickly found out through word of mouth that I wasn't a person you'd ever want to cross. As a result, one of the things that kept my friends loyal to me was fear. People didn't dare talk about me behind my back out of fear that I'd find out about it and strike back. That one is probably the least prevalent reason though luckily, as most of my sixth form mates befriended me because they liked how excessively obnoxious I acted, but at the same time could tell that I was putting it all on as an act. My male friends acted towards my charade differently to my female friends - the guys could probably tell I was putting it on and they knew there was something more to me than that, but they didn't bother prying into it. The girls however, couldn't help themselves, and they spent many hours (when they got me by myself) trying to wear away at my faked persona to find out who the "man behind the mask" was, so to speak. I don't know how much they actually found out about me, although I know they asked other people to tell them what I was really like.

    Anyway, on to uni. Although I generally interact well with everyone in uni, and have a lot of friends on my course and on the sports teams I am a part of, one person in particular I met in my second year. When I first met her, I thought she seemed like a sweet, playful person, which she was, but I quickly found out a lot of other things about her. She'd lived an unbelievably hard life before uni, which I won't go into detail on, and her experiences had made her very insecure and very emotional at times. They'd also made her quite possibly the nicest person I've ever met - she helped me get over the personal problems that had been affecting me since the two years prior to sixth form, she helped me get my confidence in myself back so I didn't have to put on a persona or a charade to fool people, and I promised her that in return I'd always be there for her no matter what happened, which is all she wanted out of her friends - to be there for her when things became too much to handle alone. One year later, and we love each other as though we were siblings.

    Finally, one guy I met when I was 11 in middle school, I've been friends with for almost 10 years now. Me and him are like brothers, and strangely enough, the thing that ultimately made us become friends was Pokemon itself. We shared a common interest, we saw each other often since we caught the same bus to school, and it all kicked off from there. Since then, we not only went to the same sixth form, but also to the same university. It was never any secret how close we were, and as a result he also shares a brother/sister relationship with the same girl that I do. He also happened to be the guy who all the girls in my sixth form went to when I wouldn't tell them anything about me, since if anyone would be able to tell them what I wasn't telling them, it was him. Needless to say, my act was very quickly ruined by this, even though he nor any of the girls ever told me that they'd done this until after I'd left sixth form for uni.

    Well, now that I've bored you with my life story...my view on friendship is a very extreme one to say the least. Because I take nothing for granted at all in my life, I cherish and care for my friends a great deal, more than most of them realize, and as a result I'm generally very close with all the friends I have. However, because of how much I cherish their friendship, it also means that I have nothing but hatred for those who betray me - one of the girls who I was very close with in sixth form did just that, by cutting off all contact with all of her former friends (myself included,) making it absolutely impossible to contact her and then leaving the country without any of them knowing. I very quickly caught wind of this, and even though we were very close in school, part of me had always distrusted her. Ultimately when I found out (from the guy in the above paragraph), it didn't surprise me at all, although I did tell him that if I ever saw her again, things would get very ugly, very quickly. I'd do anything to help my friends, and I'd never do anything to betray them, and as a result I expect, and to some extent demand, the same in return.

    Whew...and there you go.

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